Ireland re-elected its president for a second term, official results showed on Saturday, despite a surge in support for the runner-up after controversial comments targeted at the Irish Traveller ethnic minority.
Michael D. Higgins, a left-wing former arts minister who enjoyed the support of three of the four largest political parties, easily won re-election to the largely ceremonial role with 56 percent of the vote, the electoral commission said.
Media coverage had focused on the surge in support for independent businessman Peter Casey, who came second with 23 percent of the vote, up from 2 percent in an opinion poll just days earlier.
Commentators linked the surge to his comments on Irish Travellers, one of the most marginalized groups in society, who he said did not pay their fair share of taxes and generally camped on other people’s land.
Traveller advocacy group Pavee Point said the surge should send out a warning to the Irish political system, one of the few in Europe that has not experienced a surge in far-right political parties in recent years.
“It is important that we also do not gloss over the fact that one candidate sought to exploit prejudice against a small and marginalized community,” the group said in a statement welcoming Higgins’ re-election.
Casey on Saturday told journalists he did not believe the comments were responsible for the surge in support and said they could not be racist as he did not regard Travellers as a different race.
Irish voters also looked set to remove the offense of blasphemy from the constitution in a referendum held alongside the election. Exit polls and early results indicated the measure had been backed by more than two-thirds of voters.
It is currently illegal to publish or speak of anything “grossly abusive or insulting in relation to matters sacred by any religion”.
The exit polls are the latest sign of the waning influence of the Catholic religion in Ireland, five months after voters overwhelmingly backed a bid to overturn a ban on abortion.
An attempt to charge British broadcaster Stephen Fry last year for referring to god as “capricious, mean-minded (and) stupid” was dropped last year. One police source told the Irish Independent the case was abandoned because they failed to find “a substantial number of outraged people” as required by law.
Trump unravels over Ukraine call in extensive thread– then blames Democrats
President Donald Trump continued to unravel over the call he had with Ukraine on July 25.
"This Scam going on right now by the Democrats against the Republican Party, and me, was all about a perfect phone call I had with the Ukrainian President. He’s already stated, NO PRESSURE! Where is the Whistleblower, or the 2nd Whistleblower, or the “informant?” All gone because their so-called story didn’t come even close to matching up with the exact transcript of the phone call. Was it a Corrupt Adam Schiff con? Why didn’t the IG see this? When do we depose Shifty Schiff to find out why he fraudulently made up my phone call and read this fiction to Congress and the American People? I demand his deposition. He is a fraud, just like the Russia Hoax was, and the Ukraine Hoax is now. When do the Do Nothing Democrats pay a price for what they are doing to our Country, & when do the Republicans finally fight back?"
Trump is furious over news coverage of Mick Mulvaney’s flub — and he’s growing ‘increasingly frustrated and agitated’
President Donald Trump is watching Mick Mulvaney going down on cable news, said one political analyst on CNN Sunday. The criticism of the chief of staff came after Trump spent the weekend watching media coverage of Mulvaney's flub, the network reported.
"Trump has voraciously consumed news coverage about Mulvaney and has become more agitated," the source said according to the report. "Specifically, the President is concerned, according to the source, that Mulvaney is not transitioning enough to the role he is in now -- helping to lead the impeachment inquiry defense from the West Wing."
Trump lashes out at Pelosi for going to Jordan to fix his Syria flub
President Donald Trump tweeted his anger about Speaker Nancey Pelosi (D-CA) taking a delegation of leaders to Jordan to meet with those working on Syria.
"Pelosi is now leading a delegation of 9, including Corrupt Adam Schiff, to Jordan to check out Syria. She should find out why Obama drew The Red Line In the Sand, & then did NOTHING, losing Syria & all respect. I did something, 58 missiles. One million died under Obama’s mistake!" Trump tweeted Sunday.
Vice President Mike Pence went to Turkey last week to attempt to negotiate a ceasefire, but what he ended up with was 120-hour freeze on bombing Kurds.